Table of Contents


1. Overview

1.1 The Human Toll of Sudan's Civil War

1.2 The Potential for Regional War

1.3 Ethnic and Factional Divisions

1.4 Economic Isolation/Sanctions

2. Respect for Civil and Political Rights

2.1 Human Rights Violations by All Parties to the Conflict

2.1.1 Human Rights Violations by the Government of Sudan Aerial Bombardment of Civilian Populations Campaign of "Genocide" Against the Nuba People Forced Conscription of School Aged Youth Violations of the Rights of Women Religious Persecution Slavery Manipulation of Humanitarian Assistance The Institutionalization of Human Rights

2.1.2 Human Rights Violations by the Sudan People's Liberation Army and Other Opposition Forces

3. Respect for Social and Economic Rights

2.2.1 Economic Neglect and the Denial of Development Opportunities

2.2.2 Canadian Corporate Involvement in Sudan

4. Prospects for Peace

5. Conclusion

6. Policy Recommendations


The Inter-Church Coalition on Africa (ICCAF) was established in 1982 as a coordinated ecumenical Canadian church response to issues of social and economic justice and human rights in Africa. ICCAF grounds its work in the Christian theological principle that all human beings are created in the image of God, All human beings, therefore, are deserving of the dignity and respect accorded them by their divine birthright.

ICCAF also exercises a special commitment to poor, oppressed and marginalized people in Africa. ICCAF believes that all people have a right to adequate sustenance and shelter, basic health care, education and employment.

Sudan in 1997: A Human Rights Report

1. Overview

1.1 The Human Toll of Sudan's Civil War

In 1997 the human rights situation in Sudan remained a critical concern for the people of Sudan and the international human rights community. Efforts to secure a negotiated peace failed and the civil war, now in its 15th year, continued unabated. Civilians continued to be the principal casualties in the war which is now being fought on three major fronts: southern Sudan, the Nuba Mountains, and eastern Sudan. The UN estimates that 1.3 million Sudanese have died since the war began in 1983, four million have been displaced, and hundreds of thousands more languish in refugee camps in neighbouring states(1). Throughout Sudan millions of people continue to live in conditions of poverty and insecurity because of the war but also as a consequence of decades of economic neglect by successive Sudanese governments. An entire generation of children has been psychologically scarred by the horror of war, especially the relentless aerial bombing raids of the Sudanese government. Virtually all aspects of civil society, infrastructure and traditional economic and trading systems in southern Sudan, the Nuba Mountains and Ingessena Hills, the Abyei area and parts of north eastern Sudan have been seriously impaired if not destroyed altogether(2).

1.2 The Potential for Regional War

The potential for Sudan's civil war to become regional in scope grew in 1997 when opposition forces opened a new front in eastern Sudan with support from the governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia. The Sudanese government accused the Eritrean and Ethiopian governments, and the Government of Uganda, of territorial incursions in support of Sudanese opposition forces. Sudan was accused of attempting to destabilize its neighbours through support of militant Islamist movements in Eritrea and Ethiopia and a militant Christian fundamentalist group in Uganda. As this brief is being prepared tensions between Sudan and Eritrea have heightened sharply as a result of cross-border military offensives launched by opposition forces operating under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Alarmed at the prospect of regional war and the massive humanitarian crisis it would likely cause, Canadian church leaders, through the Canadian Council of Churches, wrote to Prime Minister Jean Chretien in June, 1997 to register their urgent concern(3).

1.3 Ethnic and Factional Divisions

Throughout 1997 ICCAF remained deeply concerned about continuing divisions and rifts between ethnic and factional groups in southern Sudan and among Sudanese in refugee camps in Kenya and Uganda. As long was these divisions are allowed to prevail and worsen, there can be no real peace in Sudan. Sudanese women's organizations in particular worked to address ethnic and factional conflicts at their roots and to establish common ground for peace building purposes. Unfortunately, lack of resources and apparent interest on the part of donor countries hampers this kind of desperately-needed work.

1.4 Economic Isolation/Sanctions

The imposition by the United States of economic sanctions on Sudan, in October 1997, was welcomed by many solidarity groups, NGOs, human rights agencies and UN-member states. ICCAF believes that well thought out and strategic forms of international pressure can compliment national struggles for justice, peace and respect for human rights. However, ICCAF and its Sudanese church partners are concerned about the adverse impact economic sanctions may have on already impoverished and suffering populations in Sudan.

2. Respect for Human Rights

2.1 Human Rights Violations by all Parties to the Conflict

Both major parties to the conflict in Sudan committed serious human rights violations in 1997. However, in terms of the scope and intensity of abuses, the Government of Sudan (GOS) is by far the worst perpetrator. Nonetheless, ICCAF believes that all parties to the conflict in Sudan must be held accountable for any lack of respect shown for the human rights of civilian populations under their authority.

In his interim report to the 52nd Session of the General Assembly (December, 1997), the Special Rapporteur for Sudan, Gaspar Biro, expressed deep concern over serious, widespread and continuing human rights violations in Sudan generally. He listed the following violations:

In March, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture described torture as a fairly extensive problem among the government's official and unofficial security forces.

In October/November, 1997 ICCAF staff visited areas of southern, central and north eastern Sudan and conducted interviews with individuals and groups, including church organizations that maintain extensive reporting networks. Testimony gathered tended to corroborate reports of many of the kinds of violations listed by Sudan's country rapporteur(4). In particular: aerial bombardment of civilian populations in southern and north eastern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains; forced displacement of persons; torture and other forms of cruel and inhuman punishment; discrimination based on religion; violations of the rights of women and children; and enforced disappearances.

2.1.1 Human Rights Violations by the Government of Sudan

At the core of GOS human rights abuses is its policy to forcibly "Islamize" and "Arabize" the Sudanese population-Muslims, Christians and followers of traditional African religions-in pursuit of a "pure" vision of an Islamic and Arabized state. This policy is coupled with a legacy of economic neglect and underdevelopment. Together, they form the foundation for many of the deplorable human rights conditions which have made life so miserable for so many Sudanese.

ICCAF believes that the GOS's desire for political power and economic wealth, rather than religion, is the principal cause of the civil war in Sudan. Religion-in particular, the inculcation of specific religious beliefs-is used by the GOS to subjugate Sudanese people of all faith traditions and to tighten its grip on the reins of power in the country.

Several reputable international human rights agencies have detailed civil, political, social and cultural human rights abuses committed by the GOS in 1997. ICCAF would like to highlight a few of these recorded violations. Aerial Bombardment of Civilian Populations

The GOS continued its campaign of aerial bombardment in areas of southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains and commenced bombing raids in areas in north eastern Sudan captured early in the year by the joint forces of the Sudan Alliance Forces (SAF), SPLA and the Beja Congress. ICCAF staff saw fresh evidence of sustained bombing, including wounded civilians, bombed-out buildings and unexploded ordnance, in some of these areas. In the Nuba Mountains in November, for example, ICCAF staff arrived immediately following 11 consecutive days of bombing in the town of Kauda. On some days GOS planes came and dropped their payloads three times.(5) The bombing and the terror it spreads produces massive numbers of displaced persons and takes a particular toll on children, many of whom will bear the scars of emotional trauma for years to come. Campaign of "Genocide" Against the People of the Nuba Mountains

The plight of the Nuba people deserves special mention. ICCAF staff visited this isolated region in November and gathered reports of widespread human rights abuses. While the Sudanese government's military campaign in the Nuba Mountains has decreased in intensity since 1992, it remains systematic and sustained. Government forces, from an archipelago of bases throughout the region, continue to "comb" the countryside abducting civilians, burning mosques and churches, razing houses and either stealing or setting fire to food crops. Kidnapped civilians are taken either to government garrisons or "peace camps", a euphemism for prisons. Once there, according to Nuba human rights monitors and escaped internees, the abducted are beaten, raped, forcibly Islamized and Arabized, and denied the basic necessities of life. Massive numbers of Nuba have been displaced as a result of these raids. Some have fled to mountain tops and some to displaced persons camps. Some, simply wanting to escape the ravages of war, have fled into the waiting arms of the GOS.

Humanitarian assistance is also denied the Nuba people through restrictions the GOS places on the mandate of the UN's Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS). To date, the UN has been unsuccessful in broadening the OLS mandate to include these areas that have been devastated by war and are in urgent need of humanitarian relief. It also should be noted that, despite repeated assurances that it would do so, the GOS refused the Special Rapporteur for Sudan free and unrestricted access to all parts of Sudan in 1997, including the Nuba Mountains.

Sustained government attacks on the Nuba people, coupled with the denial of humanitarian assistance, has prompted several international human rights agencies to claim that the Nuba are the targets of a campaign of genocide or genocide by attrition. Indeed, the GOS's systematic and sustained assault on the Nuba people does appear to meet the criteria for genocide as stated in the UN Convention on the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman Punishment (1948). ICCAF notes that the International Committee of the Red Cross does not subscribe to the charges that the GOS is responsible for deliberate genocide. ICCAF agrees that the GOS probably does not have an explicit policy calling for the elimination of the Nuba people. However, persistent scorched earth campaigns, extensive earial bombardment, the denial of food and other aid, systematic abductions, and forced inculcation of religious and cultural beliefs and norms--strongly suggest genocidal intent. While some debate whether or not the Sudanese government maintains a policy of genocide as such, the consequences of other government policies may implicitly amount to the same thing. Forced Conscription of School Aged Youth

In June, President Omar al Bashir issued a decree saying that all boys who sat for the Sudan School Certificate examinations must do between 12 to 18 months of compulsory military service-before they are entitled to proceed to higher education. Those who failed to report would be denied entrance to university and not even receive their high school certificates. After an initial two months of basic training, many of the 70,000 students who were thus conscripted were assigned to army units, some of which have been sent to combat zones in southern and north eastern Sudan, without their parents' knowledge. Many of the details of this situation came to light when some 70 of the boys escaped from the Khartoum airport where they were about to be airlifted to the south. Street youths aged 12-13 were also reportedly conscripted by force. While conscription is legal in Sudan these forms of recruitment constitute a serious violation of human rights. Violation of the Rights of Women

In 1997 the GOS also continued to demonstrate its contempt for the rights of women, including Muslim women in areas under government control. When they peacefully protested the forced conscriptions of their sons in from the headquarters of UNDP in Khartoum, 37 women were beaten with sticks and rubber hoses and arrested by Sudanese security forces. At least 34 of the women were later tried and given 10 strokes of the lash.(6) In the wake of the incident the Special Rapporteur for Sudan, Gaspar Biro, spoke of the "utter disregard for the rights and dignity of the women assaulted", and called for an international investigation of the abuses against women.(7) Also during 1997, other Sudanese women were arrested, tried and flogged for appearing in public and wearing non-Islamic dress. Fifteen female students from al-Ahfad University were given 15 lashes each for wearing trousers in public. Other women were accused of prostitution and threatened with public beheading or stoning.(8)

In southern Sudan, the war has greatly exacerbated the burden on women, already too heavy as a result of an unjust, gender-based division of labour. In many communities, where men have gone to war, women are left to care for children and the elderly, grow food, haul water, and maintain overall psycho-social stability. The situation is even more burdensome in communities that are bombed regularly by the Sudanese Air Force, where large numbers of war-displaced have congregated, or where desperately-needed humanitarian assistance is denied owing to Sudanese government restrictions on the mandate of Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS). These conditions constitute a serious violation of the human rights of women.

Women comprise 32.6 percent of the labour force in rural areas (and 14.7 percent in urban centres).(9) Rural women are major players in agricultural sector. Yet they have no legal access to land ownership and they often do not control the money generated from their agricultural labour. Women who have been deserted by their husbands are left landless and destitute, as they are not allowed to stay on the land.

Female genital mutilation (FGM), which is widely condemned by international health authorities as damaging to both physical and psychological health, is widespread, especially in the north. According to the US State Department, "An estimated 90 percent of females in the north have been subjected to FGM, with consequences that have included severe urinary problems, infections, and even death. Infibulation, the most severe type of FGM, is also the most common type. It is usually performed on girls between ages four and seven. It is often performed by traditional practitioners in improvised, unsanitary conditions, causing severe pain and trauma to the child. No form of FGM is illegal under the Criminal Code. However, the health law forbids doctors and midwives from performing infibulation. Women displaced from the south to the north reportedly are increasingly imposing FGM upon their daughters, even if they themselves have not been subjected to it. The government has neither arrested nor prosecuted any persons for violating the health law against infibulation."(10)

Women in particular have suffered under Sudan's Structural Adjustment Program (SAP; see section 3.2 below). In response to macro-economic changes, Sudanese women have been forced to develop survival strategies centred on reducing household consumption. These strategies have affected the quantity and quality of food per meal.(11) Expenditure on medicine and general health care has also been reduced. Other survival strategies include increasing domestic household production which entails longer working hours for women both within and outside the home. Many women report that they have to delegate the extra work to their daughters, a practice that often has a serious impact on the general welfare of young females as well as on their social and academic aspirations.(12)

Sudan's SAP has also affected the capacity of families to send their daughters to school. State education was technically free in Sudan before the implementation of the SAP. Studies show that the removal of subsidies and the imposition of educational fees at all levels of enrolment have had a particularly negative impact on women, who already experience unequal educational opportunities.(13) Enrolment rates of younger females are declining and drop-out rates are increasing. Most families cannot afford to pay fees for tuition and accommodation and they cannot do without the extra labour provided by young females in the household.

Women's rights became more and more relegated to the sidelines with the imposition of Sharia codes in 1983. Since that time, Sudanese women have been waging long and concerted campaigns to exercise even their basic human rights like freedom of movement. Some gains have been made. After 14 years of trying to persuade the government, women were finally allowed to drive on the basis of a decree issued last September. In 1996, the government lifted some restrictions on women's ability to travel abroad. Married Sudanese women can now freely travel without permission from their husbands or elder brothers. However, young girls are still required by law to seek the permission of their fathers or elder brothers when travelling abroad, or even within Sudan. Religious Persecution

Although the government has stated that all religions should be respected and that freedom of worship is ensured, in practice it treats Islam as the state religion and has declared that Islam must inspire the country's laws, institutions and policies. The 1994 Societies Registration Act replaced the controversial Missionary Societies Act of 1962. Theoretically, it allows churches to engage in a wider range of activities then did the missionary act. However, churches are still subject to restrictions placed on non-religious corporations. While non-Muslims may convert to Islam, the 1991 Criminal Act makes apostasy (which includes conversion to another religion) by Muslims punishable by death. Muslims may proselytize freely, but non-Muslims are forbidden to do so. Children who have been abandoned or whose parentage is unknown-regardless of presumed religious origin-are considered Muslims and can only be adopted by Muslims. Non-Muslims may adopt only other non-Muslim children. No equivalent restriction is placed on adoption by Muslims.

Throughout Sudan in 1997, the GOS continued to harass and persecute both Christians and Muslims. In the north, churches were threatened with "punishment" if they did not publicly declare their support for the April, 1997 Khartoum Agreement.(14) Aid workers and diplomats reported that 25 Catholic churches have been torn down and none replaced in three years.(15) Licences to build new churches are particularly hard to obtain. In Khartoum, under the Town Re-planning Scheme, the GOS is re-zoning the shanty towns that are home to tens of thousands of southern Christians who have fled the war in the south. According to the head of the Sudanese Council of Churches in Khartoum, the plan is a campaign against Christians. "The engineers always make the roads pass through the churches structures," the official said.(16) Maps of re-planned areas show plots for mosques and Islamic prayer centres, but designate no new plots for churches that have been torn down.(17)

In the Nuba Mountains, GOS forces continued to desecrate mosques and churches. In November, 1997 ICCAF staff visited the region and saw and heard evidence of this nature.(18) The UK-based human rights group, African Rights, calls the desecration of mosques in the Nuba Mountains the GOS's "darkest secret".(19) During a visit to the Nuba Mountains in November a Nuba asked ICCAF staff: How can a government that declares itself to be devoutly Muslim destroy Islamic places of worship and even burn the Holy Qur'an? Slavery

The highly publicized freeing of slaves through purchase by human rights and humanitarian organizations in 1997 proved that chattel slavery is a serious problem in Sudan, particularly in northern Bahr El Ghazal. The testimony of liberated slaves implicated the Sudanese government, if only indirectly, in the practice. Reports indicate that slave raiders are mobilized by the Popular Defence Force (PDF), established in 1991 as a special branch of the Sudanese military to function under the direct operational control of the NIF.(20) Furthermore, slavery has been linked to the NIF's notion of jihad. So-called Black Africans in northern Bahr El Ghazal are considered "entirely outside the law, and may be arbitrarily killed, enslaved, looted or otherwise abused. The NIF recruiters entice local nomads to participate in their violent jihad by emphasizing both the spiritual rewards (e.g. paradise in case of death) and material rewards (e.g. booty in the form of slaves, cattle and grain and any other moveable property of the victims)."(21) Manipulation of Humanitarian Assistance

The GOS also continued to restrict and manipulate the provision of humanitarian assistance to populations in need. In particular, the government continued to deny humanitarian access to the Nuba Mountains, further substantiating claims by human rights groups of a campaign of genocide against the Nuba people.(22) The Institutionalization of Human Rights

In 1996, the GOS assured the UNCHR that it would seriously address the problem of human rights violations in areas under its jurisdiction. It created the advisory Consultative Council for Human Rights, the Special Investigative Committee on Allegations of Enforced or Voluntary Disappearances and Reported Cases of Slavery, and the Sudanese Jurists Union. It also set up Human Rights Advisory Education Committees throughout Sudan. As has been stated by the Special Rapporteur,(23) these instruments have generally failed to stem the tide of human rights abuses in government-controlled areas. Therefore, it is difficult to view them as anything more than window dressing designed to buy the favour of unsuspecting UN member states.

It is clear to ICCAF and its church partners in Sudan that the placement of independent human rights monitors throughout government-controlled areas is the best option for measuring the GOS's commitment to improving human rights.

2.2 Human Rights Violations Committed by Opposition (Rebel) Forces

The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) also committed human rights abuses in 1997. Based on reports by ICCAF's church partners in southern Sudan, and ICCAF staff's own field observations, the extent and kind of violations have declined in the three years since the SPLA, under intense international pressure, took steps to improve its human rights record. For example, incidents of harassment and persecution of civilians have been sharply reduced. Still, church sources and civilians reported many serious human rights abuses including:

A particular incident in 1997 that ICCAF wishes to highlight was the detention and abuse of Sudanese and foreign church personnel who had complained about the SPLA's forced conscription of under-age youth. The church workers were released unharmed after a few days, and disciplinary action was reportedly taken against the local commander responsible for the abductions. Nonetheless, the SPLA command must take action to ensure that human rights standards are strictly enforced and followed. It must be encouraged to continue to implement the human rights instruments at its disposal.

In the Nuba Mountains, the SPLA has allowed an international human rights agency to train a team of 12 local an rights monitors who regularly report on government and rebel abuses of civilians. While these monitors are not independent in the way that non-Sudanese monitors would be, their presence appears to have had a stabilizing effect on relationships between military personnel and civilian populations. It should also be said that the SPLA in the Nuba mountains, shortly after its formation in 1983, took steps to instill respect for human rights among its soldiers and also demonstrated a strong commitment to the formation of independent civil structures. While human rights violations by the SPLA in the Nuba Mountains were relatively few in 1997, Church sources in the region did report some incidents of poor treatment of prisoners of war, pilfering of locally-grown food, and interference in civil affairs.(25)

At this time ICCAF has received no reports from partners or other sources of human rights violations committed by opposition forces other than the SPLA. A visit by ICCAF staff to north eastern Sudan in November 1997, which included extensive meetings with civilians living in areas under the control of the Sudan Alliance Forces (SAF), revealed that SAF forces are highly respected and known for their sensitivity to people's situations and needs. No human rights abuses were reported to ICCAF.(26)

In addition to human rights education and the implementation of mechanisms to ensure respect for human rights, civilian populations and military personnel in rebel-controlled areas would be well served with the placement of independent human rights monitors.

3. Respect for Economic and Social Rights

3.1 Economic Neglect and Denial of Development Opportunities

In 1997 basic economic and social rights represented in the right to work, to food, to health, to education and to development continued to be violated in Sudan. Violations of economic and social rights have been ongoing in Sudan for decades and provide a context in which the civil war and the violation of civil and political rights must be situated.

In particular, successive Sudanese governments have exploited the country's economic potential but provided few opportunities for economic and social development, especially in southern Sudan but also areas in northern Sudan. Most post-colonial development projects were centred in the north. Nearly all trade opportunities in the south were dominated by northern merchants who systematically siphoned off the profits and invested them in the north. This legacy of economic exploitation plays a major role in the current conflict, along side systematic religious, racial and cultural discrimination. In turn, the civil war has aggravated and reinforced chronic poverty and economic underdevelopment throughout Sudan. It has accelerated environmental degradation and increased the levels of armed confrontation over scarce resources in what is one of the poorest countries in the world.

Subscription to the policies of international financial institutions (IFIs) has also had a devastating impact on the economy. The Sudanese economy is primarily agricultural. Over 80 percent of the population is engaged in animal husbandry. In 1970, under pressure of the World Bank to follow its blueprint for the whole of Africa, Sudanese agricultural development embarked on a strategy for increasing large-scale commodity production for export. Scarce development resources were diverted to the mechanization of grain production and irrigated cotton schemes, at the expense of small-scale agriculture. A drop in domestic food production for local consumption followed, as did a growing dependence on imports of subsidized U.S. food aid.

3.2 Sudan's Structural Adjustment Program

The implementation of Sudan's Structural Adjustment Program, taken together with similar economic programs imposed on other heavily indebted countries, inevitably led to a glut of global commodities and concomitant falls in the prices of commodity exports. When combined with competitive devaluations, the policy for Sudan resulted in continuous increases in output but reductions in foreign exchange earnings. In addition, the prescriptions of the IFIs compounded the rise in prices of essential foodstuffs by removing government subsidies. The cuts in government expenditure were borne most heavily by social expenditure and were followed by falling standards in health care, clean water and basic nutritional supplies. But the cuts were not mirrored by reductions in government administration costs or in military expenditure. Spending in these sectors tripled in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Sudan's domestic economic constraints are parallelled by its standing with overseas creditors. The country's total debt in 1994 stood at over US $17 billion and in 1995 it held the world's largest debt at US $1.7 billion. For some time the Sudanese state has been poised on the brink of being blacklisted by the IMF which would effectively cut it off from most Western financial aid and credit sources.

Responsibility for Sudan's poor economic condition, lack of balanced development between north and south, and small and large scale agriculture must be borne by the Government of Sudan. However, the IFIs must also share the blame for imposing on Sudan policies which have encouraged, if not determined, the direction in which the GOS has taken the country's economy. The policies of both the GOS and the IFIs constitute a serious violation of the economic and social rights of the people of Sudan.

3.3 Canadian Corporate Involvement in Sudan

In 1997, ICCAF continued to monitor the activities of some Canadian corporations that have investments in Sudan, in particular, Arakis Energy Corporation. As ICCAF has stated before, commercial partnerships with the GOS lend legitimacy to this egregious abuser of human rights and enable it, through mutually profitable business ventures, to sustain and prolong the civil war. When ICCAF staff visited Sudan in October/November it was noted that, among opposition forces, church organizations, and indigenous NGOs, Canada's reputation as an arbiter of fairness and ethical principles has been tarnished as a result of the activities of Arakis and other Canadian firms working cooperatively with the Sudanese government.(27) There was clearly a perception that the Canadian government could be taking action to interrupt or curtail Arakis' activities in Sudan.

4. Prospects for Peace

Throughout 1997, the Sudanese government continued to promote its own "peace from within" initiative. In particular it signed, with individuals and groups formerly part of the SPLA, the April Khartoum Agreement. In and of itself, this accord has been flatly rejected by the NDA, IGAD countries and many UN member states as illegitimate and an attempt to sidestep the internationally supported IGAD peace process and the Declaration of Principles (DOP). The GOS's attempts to secure other mediating parties, including South African President Nelson Mandela, are further evidence of its contempt for IGAD and the DOP. At present IGAD is the only legitimate forum for negotiations to end the conflict in Sudan.

The civil war in Sudan, and the potential for regional conflict, were addressed through the October/November meetings of the IGAD. The GOS and SPLA each presented positions unacceptable to the other, and the talks failed to end the conflict or even secure a cease fire. The refusal by the GOS to accede to the idea of a secular state-a fundamental element of the IGAD DOP-remained the principal obstacle to peace. The proposal for a transitional, confederal state advanced by the SPLA appeared to contribute to the impasse. The agreement by both sides to return to the IGAD table in April 1998, while viewed as positive by some, is little solace for civilians living near the war fronts and in camps for the displaced.

The talks ended a three-year absence by the GOS from the IGAD table. Mounting international pressure, declining fortunes on the battlefield, and economic decline were undoubtedly the chief reasons behind the GOS's return. Prior to the talks, it was generally believed that the prospects for a negotiated settlement were not good. It was also widely believed that both sides still prefer to settle their differences on the battlefield. It may even be that the IGAD talks are useful to both sides in the achievement of their military objectives, and represent yet another plane on which to fight the war. For its part the SPLA, now working collaboratively with other opposition forces under the umbrella of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), gained significant ground militarily in 1997and is no doubt buoyed by prospects of further advances in 1998. Both sides have geared up for major dry-season offensives. The net losers, as in previous years, will be Sudan's civilian population.

ICCAF believes that the Sudanese government, dominated as it is by political and religious extremists, may actually not be capable, at least in its present configuration, of negotiating a just peace. Such an agreement would require genuine acceptance of the idea of a secular state. This prospect is clearly anathema to the National Islamic Front's (NIF's) peculiar brand of Islam. Separation of religion and state would threaten the NIF's very existence. ICCAF has observed a pattern whereby the GOS is talking without actually negotiating, and thus is exploiting the international desire for security, peace and respect for human rights. As was seen during the latest round of IGAD talks, once the discussions touch on a substantive issue (e.g. a secular state), and critical dialogue and bargaining begin, the process comes to a halt. In the final analysis, the regime loses nothing by exploiting international goodwill. Its actions bring it good publicity and buy it more time.(28) Governments that believe they can maintain a constructive dialogue with Sudanese authorities on questions of peace, security, human rights and good governance should remain cognizant of this unfortunate reality.

5. Conclusion

It is difficult not to conclude that the Sudanese government's apparent unrestrained desire for power and wealth, compounded by often unbridled religious zeal, is the fundamental cause of Sudan's 14-year-old civil war, and the principal cause of unfathomable human suffering among Muslims, Christians and followers of traditional African religions throughout the country. Opposition forces, too, have violated and continue to violate the human rights of Sudanese people living in areas under their control, and must be made accountable for their actions. Only when the root causes of the conflict are acknowledged and addressed, however, will there truly be a chance for peace with justice in Sudan.

In view of what some have termed the fundamental "irrationality" of the Islamists in Khartoum, new strategies to promote peace, democracy and justice in Sudan must be found. Conventional approaches have fallen short. At the very least, dialogue should not be restricted to contact with the government alone. The peace process needs to be broadened. Communications channels need to be opened with Sudanese opposition groups. Initiatives need to be taken to address and heal ethnic and factional differences in southern Sudan. It is a sad political irony that some Western democracies continue to ignore representatives of the popular forces while embracing those who conspire against democracy.

6. Policy Recommendations

6.1 United Nations Commission on Human Rights

6.1.1 The pursuit of a just peace: At the 54th Session of the UNCHR, Canada should continue to give high priority to the return to democratic rule in Sudan and the attainment of a just peace;

6.1.2 Canada's Item 10 speech: At the 54th Session of the UNCHR, in its Item 10 speech, Canada should draw attention to the human rights situation in Sudan and strongly condemn human rights abuses by all parties to the conflict, but particularly the GOS, taking care to site the overwhelming evidence of indiscriminate violence against civilians (particularly the aerial bombardment of civilians in southern and north eastern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains), the denial of humanitarian assistance to civilian populations, incidents of chattel slavery, and the oppression of women. Canada should also reaffirm the IGAD peace process as the only legitimate forum for negotiating peace in Sudan.

6.1.3 Extension of SR's mandate: At the 54th Session of the UNCHR, Canada should call for the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur (SR) on Sudan and demand that the GOS provide the SR with unrestricted access to all parts of the country, including the Nuba Mountains.

6.1.4 Independent human rights field monitors: At the 54th Session of the UNCHR, Canada should call for the dispatching of international human rights monitors to all parts of Sudan, including in southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains, Ingessina Hills and in north eastern Sudan. Although the GOS is clearly-by virtue of scope and intensity-the most serious violator of human rights in Sudan, all parties to the conflict should be held accountable for their abuses. International observers cannot be excluded on the basis of national sovereignty, as the GOS has stated before. Rights of national sovereignty imply certain responsibilities derived from commitments to international treaties and conventions. Canada should take the position that it will find the assurances of the GOS, and the rebel movements, credible only when all parties permit independent observers access to areas where they can monitor measures take to uphold basic human rights.

6.1.5 International commission to investigate slavery: Canada should call for an international commission of investigation to address the issue of chattel slavery in Sudan.

6.1.6 Oppose all loans and credits: Canada should urge all members of the Commission to oppose all loans and credits to Sudan from Multilateral Banks (the IMF, World Bank and African Development Bank) which strengthen the government position and contribute to the violation of human rights.

6.2 The Peace Process

6.2.1 Broadening the process for peace: Canadian policy should remain focussed on a comprehensive peace. Efforts to resolve the internal war must not lose sight of the larger regional conflict and the potential for regional war. ICCAF believes that peace must be based on the IGAD Declaration of Principles (DOP) which clearly define future options in Sudan. Canada, through the Friends of IGAD, the UNCHR, and other fora should work to keep sustained pressure on the Sudanese government to embrace the IGAD peace process, and the DOP, sincerely and in good faith. However, as stated in the body of this brief, the Sudanese government has shown little more than contempt for the IGAD process and the DOP and has dodged the process repeatedly. Thus, pressure to seriously engage in the process should be complimented with alternative means of engagement. At the very least, dialogue should not be restricted to contact with the government alone. The peace process needs to be broadened. Communications channels need to be opened with the Sudanese opposition. Initiatives need to be taken to bridge factional and ethnic divisions within southern Sudan.

6.3 Conflict Management

6.3.1 Traditional conflict management: Traditional conflict management mechanisms are valid means of diminishing conflict and achieving local peace. Local-level negotiations and meetings between chiefs, local elders and church leaders in areas with the largest potential for violence, such as the Jieng-Nuer borders, should be encouraged and facilitated to reduce as much as possible military conflict and inter-communal raiding between Southern communities. Canada should take advantage of opportunities to support these mechanisms through the Organization of African Unity (OAU), UN and appropriate Canadian NGOs.

6.3.2 Women and conflict resolution/peace building: Women's groups in the south and north have an important role to play in keeping vital lines of communication open as a means of facilitating reconciliation. A roundtable should be held to generate more understanding and appreciation of women's efforts in peace building and conflict resolution and to explore options for supporting these initiatives.

6.3.3 Refugee populations: Canada could fund NGOs, churches and other groups to promote conflict resolution efforts in refugee camps in northern Uganda and Kenya where there is considerable fear, mistrust, and a reluctance to reconcile with opposing factions and ethnic groups. This could be achieved through community meetings, education, religious forums, and other means. Such efforts are essential if the refugee population in these camps is going to be successfully re-integrated back into Sudanese society.

6.4 Regarding Humanitarian Access

6.4.1 OLS reforms: The Government of Canada should collaborate with other donor governments to resist the GOS' attempts to effectively restructure OLS, which includes routing all aid through Government-controlled areas and closing the southern sector of OLS. Reforms should focus on reducing the ability of any party to restrict humanitarian access for Sudanese civilians. Canada should take every opportunity to ensure that relief is not held hostage to GOS consent processes.

6.4.2 Broadening current OLS mandate: A strategic and constructive Canadian intervention if required to enhance opportunities to reform and broaden the OLS mandate to include neglected areas, such as the Nuba Mountains, and to prevent the Sudanese government or any other party from restricting humanitarian access to civilian populations. ICCAF believes that Canada has the moral credibility to lead on this initiative. Failing any change on the part of the Sudanese government, creative ways should be found to channel aid to the Nuba people and other populations denied access to humanitarian assistance.

6.4.3 Adherence to humanitarian principles: The absence of conditions on humanitarian aid has promoted the abuse of aid and left international donors with little leverage. The OLS Ground Rules-a mechanism to require adherence to international humanitarian principles by the SPLM/A-should be expanded to include the GOS.

6.4.4 Internally displaced in northern Sudan: One of the great failures of the OLS donor consortium has been the inadequacy of the response to the needs of internally displaced persons in northern Sudan. Donors, both individually and through the OLS consortium, should apply more pressure on the Sudanese government to allow more humanitarian aid to these populations.

6.4.5 Emergency preparedness in north eastern Sudan: Aid and emergency preparedness in north eastern Sudan and along the Sudan-Eritrea and Sudan-Ethiopia borders should be enhanced as a result of the ongoing and escalated fighting in this region. Provision should be made for the Beja people of eastern Sudan, who have been the continual targets of indiscriminate harassment by the GOS and who were forced to flee their traditional lands to Ethiopia. Ideally humanitarian assistance to this area should be provided by OLS. If this is not possible, given Sudanese government restrictions on the OLS mandate, other channels of aid delivery should be found.

6.5 Civil Society

6.5.1 Strengthening civil society: Support for civil society structures at the lowest level of social organization, whether village liberation councils or community organizations, would be an excellent investment in the administrative capacity and stability of post-war Sudanese society. The nascent civil structures in non-government held areas in particular lack the resources and infrastructure to effectively administrate a civil society, despite the strong desire on the part of the local authorities to do so. Foreign Affairs could work cooperatively with CIDA to find creative new ways of channelling aid to fledgeling civil administrations in opposition controlled areas of southern Sudan, the Nuba Mountains, and north eastern Sudan, to help develop civilian institutional capacity. A roundtable to specifically address these issues and explore viable options would help to remove any existing obstacles to this kind of support.

6.6 The Absolute Sovereign Rights of States

6.6.1 Right of sovereignty: One of the biggest barriers to reform in countries like Sudan is related to the issue of the "right of sovereignty". Some states, like Sudan, claim this right to deflect international criticism and to govern their own people as they wish. Thus, the right to sovereignty can contribute to political, social and economic conditions that lead to civil war, mass exoduses, and social collapse-leaving thousands of people destitute and requiring the help of the international community. The actions of states that use the right to sovereignty in this manner can impinge on the sovereign rights of neighbouring states (refugee influxes, etc.) and on countries like Canada-where taxpayers' money is required to "pick up the pieces". Canada could lead the international community in developing a more refined and workable definition of "sovereignty" which could help to establish a new and better paradigm for international relations-where "popular sovereignty" is recognized to a greater extent. It would define the standards necessary for countries to be eligible to attain the right to "sovereignty". At the very least, a regime's right to sovereign rule over a state should be challenged when that regime creates significant numbers of political refugees. Until a set of standards regarding what constitutes the right of "sovereignty" is achieved, civil wars will continue, and interventions in countries like Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia, etc. will continue to be ad hoc and reactionary.

6.7 Canadian Companies Working in Sudan

6.7.1 Public statement: Canada should make a public statement distancing itself from Canadian companies like Arakis Energy Corporation that work cooperatively with the GOS and, as a consequence of this cooperation, support the egregious human rights abuses committed by the GOS and prolong the civil war. ICCAF believes such a statement would improve Canada's image among Sudanese opposition forces, churches, NGOs and the Sudanese public.

1. Report of the UN's Special Rapporteur on Sudan to the 52nd Session of the UN General Assembly, December 1997.

2. Ibid.

3. Canadian church leaders' letter on the conflict in Sudan, Canadian Council of Churches, June 1997.

4. "Trip Report: Southern, Central and Eastern Sudan", Gary W. Kenny, Coordinator, Inter-Church Coalition on Africa, January 1998.

5. Ibid.

6. Sudan Democratic Gazette, January 1998.

7. Horn of Africa Bulletin, Nov./Dec. 1997.

8. Ibid.

9. "Women remain behind a wall of inequality", study by the Babiker Badris Scientific Society for Women Studies, Afhad Women's University, Khartoum, 1998.

10. "Sudan Country Report for Human Rights practices for 1997", Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour, US Department of State, January 30, 1998.

11. From interviews with Sudanese women conducted by Amani El Jack in preparation for the MA thesis, "The Impact of Structural Adjustment Programs on Women in Sudan 1978-1993", March 1997.

12. Ibid.

13. Ibid.

14. The Daily Nation, October 1997.

15. Horn of Africa Bulletin, Nov./Dec., 1997.

16. Ibid.

17. Ibid.

18. "Trip Report: Southern, Central and Eastern Sudan", Gary W. Kenny, Coordinator, Inter-Church Coalition on Africa, January 1998.

19. Facing Genocide: The Nuba of Sudan, African Rights, July 1995, p. 286.

20. Sudan Democratic Gazette, February 1998.

21. Ibid.

22. "Trip Report: Southern, Central and Eastern Sudan", Gary W. Kenny, Coordinator, Inter-Church Coalition on Africa, January 1998.

23. Report of the UN's Special Rapporteur on Sudan to the 52nd Session of the UN General Assembly, December 1997.

24. "Trip Report: Southern, Central and Eastern Sudan", Gary W. Kenny, Coordinator, Inter-Church Coalition on Africa, January 1998.

25. "Trip Report: Southern, Central and Eastern Sudan", Gary W. Kenny, Coordinator, Inter-Church Coalition on Africa, January 1998.

26. Ibid.

27. Ibid.

28. Ibid; Paper by Dr. Taisier Mohamed Ali, University of Toronto.